Air Fryer chicken thighs are juicy, flavorful, and crispy, like deep fried chicken, but healthier! They are made with very little oil and just a simple dry rub using ingredients you likely already have on hand. Ready in less than 20 minutes and a total crowd pleaser – the perfect easy weeknight dinner!
Reason number 9 million that I love my Air Fryer- these Air Fryer Chicken Thighs.
We probably make them three times a month. They are just THAT good…and also crazy easy. And it seems like a lot of my readers agree – these chicken thighs are consistently a favorite recipe on Confessions.
There’s something so irresistible about them. Juicy and crispy, yet they are made with barely any oil and with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. And the spice rub is seriously to die for!
The best part? My whole family loves these, which is a rare event these days. I know any given week I can make this chicken and everyone will devour it without a single complaint!
So basically if you haven’t made them yet, this is the sign to go for it, friend!
New to Air Frying? Check out my The BEST Healthy Air Fryer Recipes post for tons of recipe ideas!
Why I love this recipe
- The chicken is juicy and crispy – even without the skin thanks to the magic of the Air Fryer.
- The spice rub is incredibly easy to mix together and also tastes incredible on these thighs or any type of meat.
- We all love this chicken as a dinner protein with a side of Sautéed Zucchini, and Copycat Rice a Roni, but it’s also so yummy on top of a salad or mixed into pasta like this Healthy Alfredo Sauce recipe.
- These air fried chicken thighs are gluten and dairy free, low carb, and Whole30 compatible (just omit the brown sugar).
- From fryer to plate, I can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
There are plenty of reasons to love this air fried chicken thighs recipe. My favorite reason is that it requires just seven ingredients, and 5 of them are spices for the chicken dry rub.
For the Chicken:
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs – Bone-in thighs would also work just fine, you will just need to cook them longer. If you prefer white meat, you can use boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins instead. If you buy boneless chicken thighs with the skin, you can remove the skin first
- Olive oil or avocado oil – You’ll only use a tiny bit of this. Any other liquid cooking oil, or even cooking spray will also work.
For the Best Ever Dry Rub:
Simple pantry spices are all you need for this delicious seasoning mixture. I use a combination of the following:
- garlic powder
- chili powder
- smoked paprika or regular paprika
- brown sugar or coconut sugar
- kosher salt and black pepper
If you have a different dry rub blend that you prefer, you can definitely use it. For a spicy kick, add a pinch of cayenne. Or, use an Italian seasoning blend for a delicious Italian chicken dinner! We also love chicken with lemon pepper seasoning and my kids like anything with just garlic powder and salt.
This recipe is SO easy – perfect for even for the busiest weeknight! It comes together in just a few simple steps.
Full instructions and nutritional information can be found in the recipe card below.
- Step one: preheat your air fryer
It takes a few minutes to preheat the fryer, so it’s best to do this before you start prepping the recipe.
- Step two: tenderize the chicken
Chicken thighs almost always have an uneven thickness. Use the flat end of a meat mallet to gently flatten them to an even thickness. This ensures that the thighs will cook evenly.
After tenderizing, use paper towels to dry the chicken. This will help the spice rub stick to the meat.
- Step three: the spice rub
Measure your spices into a small bowl and mix together. TIP: you will fall in love with this dry rub, so make a triple batch and store in a mason jar in your pantry! Use it on all the meat!
Next, use a basting brush or non-stick spray to apply a light coating of oil onto the thighs.
Then, sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the spices.
- Step four: air fry, rest, and serve!
Be sure to place the thighs into the fryer basket in an even layer – avoid overlapping any pieces but you can squish them together. Air Fry in the preheated air fryer until chicken is golden and juices run clear, about 16-18 minutes, turning halfway. A digital meat thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F.
- Don’t skip tenderizing the chicken – if you don’t have a meat tenderizer, use anything heavy – rolling pin, can of veggies.
- Be sure you dry your chicken before applying the oil and the spice rub.
- Be sure you have space between your chicken or it will steam instead of “fry”
- Use a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken isn’t over or undercooked.
We are using boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe, so we are cooking them for 16-18 minutes. If you use bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on, increase to 12 minutes per side.
There is just one way to know for sure that your meal is cooked properly, and that is by measuring the internal temperature of each piece using a meat thermometer.
Poultry is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165° F, but I actually prefer my chicken thighs cooked to a higher temperature – closer to 175° F. And it’s important to note that chicken will continue to cook for a couple of minutes after you remove it from the fryer while it’s “resting,” so take that into account, too. This is known as carryover cooking!
Yes! There are directions for baked chicken thighs in the notes section of the recipe card.
Meal Prep and Storage
To prep ahead: This chicken recipe is delicious for meal prep – I use it all the time for salads,
To store: Store cooked chicken in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
To reheat: I like using the air fryer on warm to reheat chicken, but often I eat this chicken cold on a salad or I add it to a soup or sauce instead of reheating it on it’s own.
To freeze: Yes, you can make a large batch of these and freeze them in a freezer safe ziplock bag or container. For best results, thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Make it a meal!
I love these Chicken Thighs for a quick and easy dinner because they legit pair with basically anything! We most often make it with my Homemade Rice a Roni and a quick steamed veggie. I also use it as a protein for my Kale Caesar Salad. Some of our other favorite side dishes are Greek Pasta Salad, Homemade French Fries, and Easy Gluten-free Mediterranean Chickpea Salad.
As I mentioned before, I also LOVE this chicken with my Healthy Alfredo Sauce, some noodles, and steamed broccoli! It’s one of my favorite combinations!
Looking for more Air Fryer Chicken Recipes? Check these out:
Healthy Chicken Parmesan | The Foodie and The Fix
Cilantro Lime Air Fryer Chicken Thighs | Stay Snatched
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Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Sprinkle pepper
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon olive oil or olive oil cooking oil spray
- Preheat your air fryer to 380 degrees.
- Use a meat tenderizer to pound any thick parts of the chicken thigh so that they are as close to uniform thickness as possible.
- Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and brush each piece with olive oil or olive oil spray.
- Combine seasonings in a small bowl and sprinkle half the seasoning mixture evenly over the chicken thighs. Turn thighs over and evenly sprinkle remaining seasoning mixture on top. Place chicken thighs in the air fryer basket in a single layer.
- Fry in the preheated air fryer until chicken is golden and juices run clear, about 16-18 minutes, turning halfway. A digital meat thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F.
- **See notes for Oven Directions